avoiding the splits

daninthedirtJanuary 28, 2012

OK, I've got an urban acre of woodland, mostly oak and elm. Out of this I get a good stock of firewood, just from the trimmings. Of course, living in central Texas, we don't have fires in the fireplace all that much, but still, it's nice.

Now I don't have a log splitter, and neither have the time or desire to mess around with axes, sledges, or wedges. Let's say I just have a chain saw.

So what's the easiest way to prep this trimmings for the fireplace? Yeah, I could just throw them in unsplit (done that), but they don't burn that strongly. Yeah, I could cut them in disks or short segments (done that), but that takes a lot of time. I could score the bark -- not that hard, but I'm not sure that would help a lot. Ideas?

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millworkman

Pay someone else to split it. Firewood is split for a reason, so it seasons and burns well and there really is no way around it if you want it to burn well.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 9:46AM
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brickeyee

Anything mush over a few inches needs to be split to increase surface area ad allow thorough drying o it wl burn well.

There is more water by weight in most live wood than the wood weight itself.

Over half the mass goes away with drying from wet to seasoned.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 10:39AM
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live_wire_oak

It's a good punishment chore for a child. Or a good strengthening chore for someone looking to get a workout without going to the gym. Perhaps if you look at it like that, your view on DIY splitting will change. If not, then there's always the junior high kid who wants to mow your lawn in the summer. He's already shown the initiative to work a hot and sweaty job and all you need to do is to come to an agreement as to the pay for that job. Think how much it would take to make you want to take it on and offer about 2/3 of that to him, based on output, not time.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 1:12PM
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daninthedirt

These are trimmings, not large trunks. Maximum diameter is perhaps five or six inches. So if it's just a matter of drying the wood, why not just extra time under cover? Add to that that here in the 'hood we get many weeks of 100 degree+ temperatures during the summer. So things get baked pretty thoroughly. Also, some deep scores in the wood would seem to greatly aid drying.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 1:45PM
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brickeyee

'Maximum diameter is perhaps five or six inches. So if it's just a matter of drying the wood, why not just extra time under cover?"

Split wood takes around a year.

Cut wood is about a year per inch of thickness for air dry equilibrium.

5-6 inch un-split will take significantly longer.

At least two years, and likely 3 to 4 years, and even then may not really be dry enough.

How long do you have to wait?

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 4:42PM
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daninthedirt

OK, thanks. Those are handy numbers. I'm wondering if they apply in all temperature zones. Of course, down here the RH is higher than up north, so even high temps won't dry things as well.

It occurs to me that a scale would be handy, taking a representative piece for each cutting season and following the weight of that one piece.

Also, I believe it's the bark that is waterproof (which is why you'd like to split it to dry it), but knocking off a seam of bark with a chainsaw is pretty easy.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 5:28PM
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greg_2010

Since you really seem to like your power tools and don't want to do much work, why not buy a wood splitter. Since the wood isn't very big, you could probably get away with a fairly low powered one.
Here's one that I found through a google search.

Here is a link that might be useful: Electric wood splitter

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 10:59AM
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brickeyee

"taking a representative piece"

One issue that arises is that their is enough variation you need more then one piece.

A lot of moisture is lost from the end grain (for lumber we paint on coatings to slow loss here to reduce checking) but for firewood you want to lose as much moisture as you can.

You can hear the difference between wet wood and dry wood by just banging two pieces together.

Besides the greatly reduced weight of dry wood, it 'rings' when struck by another piece instead of the dull thud of wet wood.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 11:29AM
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PRO
Sophie Wheeler

$99 at Harbor Freight

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 4:14PM
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daninthedirt

Hey, $99 for a splitter is getting reasonable. Looks like a nice design. Thanks! Anyone actually used this model?

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 9:37PM
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ionized_gw

It looks like good exercise. Add a treadmill to run a saw at the same time and you will have a great work-out machine ;-)

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 11:40AM
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daninthedirt

Well "doing the splits" is a form of exercise, I guess.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 3:02PM
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greg_2010

neither have the time or desire to mess around with axes, sledges, or wedges

For 5-6" diameter pieces, you do not need sledges or wedges. An axe will easily split that.

That $99 splitter is manually operated.

A log splitter (manual/electric/gas) will take longer than an axe. They are really helpful when you have really big diameter pieces with knots.

So the question is, are you trying to avoid time OR effort? The only thing that will save both is hiring someone else to do it.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 3:06PM
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sierraeast

Buy some seasoned wood sometime in the summer when prices are typically lower for next winter that is split and cut. A cord or two will no doubt be plenty for you in TX. Take your existing "kindling" that you are wrestling with now, throw it all in a big plie, call up your buddies. When they arrive, pour on some boy scout juice,(regular unleaded), and get the party rollin' doin' the Texas two step or boot scoot boogie of your choice!

Or use your kindling for starter next winter which gets back to the splittin'! Split it, stack it up on stickers off the ground in a protected area and have fun next winter. Too wet to use this year.

    Bookmark   January 31, 2012 at 3:20PM
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daninthedirt

So the question is, are you trying to avoid time OR effort? The only thing that will save both is hiring someone else to do it.

What I was trying to avoid was splitting the wood. That's time and effort.

The main option seems to be time, which for a heavy piece may be many years. For smaller pieces, I suspect I can avoid both effort and hiring someone. I've burned year old pieces, and they do OK. They make heat and small flames. But not roaring flames.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2012 at 9:51PM
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jonnyp

You could split it w/ a maul or wait till it freezes and split with an ax,the later ain't happening.It has to be split, if it hangs around to long it will become insect infested or rot. Stack it in area w/ the most amount of sun exposure and plenty of circulation, not next to shed,barn or under trees. About a year does it up here in NE

    Bookmark   February 3, 2012 at 8:23PM
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daninthedirt

Wait till it freezes? Ha. That'll be five or six years right there.

If I leave it in the sun, it'll probably catch on fire.

You live in northeast Texas? Yeah, it's a bit cooler up there. I love to go skiing in the mountains over Tyler.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2012 at 6:48PM
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sdello

save up a good stockpile top split. Then rent a log splitter and bang it off in a day/weekend and be done with it. repeat as necessary. That manual splitter looks like more work than swinging an axe to me.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2012 at 1:25PM
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drywall_diy_guy

The electric type splitter works for light use. Leave the sticks 3 " or less in diameter unsplit and give them a year or two to dry. I like splitting wood with a maul so I neither borrow my father in laws splitter nor do I have my teens do it.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2012 at 11:23PM
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